The Value Project // Hillsborough, NC

“The direction of your focus is the direction your life will move. Let yourself move towards what is good, valuable and true.” ~ Ralph Marston

I’m going to be really honest for a quick sec, if that’s alright? Lately I’ve been thinking about this concept of “value”. What does that mean to each of us? What do we value about life, ourselves, the people we come in contact with everyday? As I’ve been thinking on and exploring this idea, I’ve come away with more questions, but also a clearer vision of myself and who I am, who I want to be.

2015 was a pretty rough year for me. It seemed that every plan that I made for my future was flipped upside down. Heartbreak, false starts, disappointments; They all helped shape those 365 days. Granted, those weren’t the only things taking place during that time but a great deal of what I was working through helped to bring me to this point. I’ve never been one to sit and wait for something to happen. If I have an idea I want to flesh it out and bring it to life. In that vein I very definitively made plans to move to Colorado. Ever since I can remember I have struggled with my wanderlust. I desperately want to explore, see new things, and always be adventuring. I thought that moving to Colorado could provide what I was looking for. I needed a fresh start and I had so many plans. Well as you might guess, circumstances came about that prevented that move from coming into being. How incredibly disappointing!!! I began to allow my doubts and discouragements to pile up and create questions about myself and what I was capable of.  I was pretty discouraged. I started seeing a therapist once a week and actually am still seeing my therapist. As we began chipping away the layers, I started to understand value and what that means in relation to people and also to myself. Everybody has to walk through hard things. It’s how we learn and grow. I came to realize that these things that happen are not really within our control. Plans change, hearts break, pain happens and this all takes place for a reason, for our ultimate good. I decided to simply accept and embrace the changes. Instead of focusing on where I’m NOT, I want to recognize that there’s beauty and wonder where I am and showcase it. I can trust my plans and dreams to a God that cares about the smallest details of my life.

I’m going to take a break and jump to a rabbit trail (It’s all going to tie together, trust me.) A few years ago I took a job working at a quirky and eclectic coffee shop called Cup-A-Joe. The shop is located in the heart of downtown Hillsborough. The town has come into it’s own over the past 10-15 years by fostering a community of artisans, writers, entrepreneurs, lovers of nature and culture. Hillsborough is a quaint, little town filled with family-owned businesses, quiet streets and deep history. The credit for the warmth and charm you will find in this town is attributed to the people who live in it. There is a deep sense of community that is the lifeblood of Hillsborough. I have had the unique opportunity to get to know the people of this community by serving them each day. In addition to the overall greatness of this job it offered a level of consistency in my slightly chaotic life. While I worked through my personal issues I was struck with an idea. These folks are so much more than how they take their coffee or what kind of pastry they like for breakfast. Their lives are vibrant, important, and worth finding out about. They each have a story to tell and I want to know it! I want to share a part of their story that others may not be aware of. So here comes the tie-in. I follow the photo blog Humans Of New York on Instagram and on Facebook. If you’ve never heard of it, look it up. It’s fantastic. The photographer decided to go on a journey through New York, talking to the people who live there and capturing a portrait in the process. I had the thought one afternoon, that I would love to do something along those lines in Hillsborough. Jim Elliot said, “Wherever you are, be all there” and that’s what I’m trying to do. Here I am with an amazing opportunity to dive into this community. I can learn so much from the people who live here and their lives. That’s what I value; People come in and out of our lives, leaving lessons and fingerprints and that’s what I want to share.

This is a deeply personal project for me. Relationships are an incredible gift that we are given in this life. We are called to love each other and to walk with each other as we journey to the end. We can offer grace, a listening ear, and the opportunity to be celebrated as valuable creations. So what’s my plan? How do I hope to accomplish this?? I want to get to know my subjects a little better by photographing them in a location that is unique to them. I want to make sure it’s a place where they enjoy, a place that means something to them, and a place where they can be themselves. I also want to spend a little time talking to them about their lives and find out their values. Today I began with the first piece of my project. I was able to go out to an incredible woman’s home where I photographed her with her horses. I spent over an hour talking with her about her life and how she came to be herself. I left feeling so encouraged and inspired. There will be more about this visit later on. What a great start to this project!! If you’re interested in keeping up with this exploration, you can stay tuned here. I’ll be posting each session with  interviews and photographs for you guys to view. You can also follow my Instagram account called The Hillsborough Value Project, created specifically for this project. Thanks for sticking this out and for your support! Cheers! (image found via Pinterest.)